Summary: Is the story of creation a myth? And what is the book of Genesis about anyway? Learn what this first book is, and what it is not as we begin our journey through God’s wonderful story.
For many people today - to say that you believe the Bible is to say that you are an anachronism - something out of today’s enlightened understanding. To say that Scripture is revealing the truth is laughable in some circles - especially among the intelligentsia. Much of the reason for scoffing at the Word of God comes in the first ten words uttered I the book of Genesis: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
For a growing number of people in our world - that assertion makes the rest of the Bible unbelievable. To say that God created is to be a moron, a simpleton, a backwards backwoods country bumpkin not to be taken seriously. The Bible - and Genesis in particular - is viewed as a myth born out of ignorant man’s superstitious need to make sense of the universe around him.
But now we know better. Everything we see around us was created in a big bang our which sprang chemical compounds that eventually came to be you and me and everything we see - given time, chance, and lightning. I want you to know right off the bat that you can be a very serious student of biology or physiology or cosmology or genetics - and have no problem at all with what God declares in this book. And in fact, I believe that it takes more faith to believe the theory of evolution than it does the truth of a creator.
And although we’re not going to exhaustively search out that subject tonight - I hope to give you enough seeds that you will do your own study and decide for yourself. But I will say this - if you can’t agree with Genesis 1:1, I would say you will have a hard time agreeing with John 3:16.
Tonight we begin a study of the book of Genesis. Genesis is actually a word that comes from Greek into Latin meaning "beginnings" because the book is about the beginnings of God’s creation, the beginnings of man, the nations, of sin, and redemption.
The Jews call the book "Bereshith" which means "in the beginning." The Jews named the books of the Bible usually by the first words they contain.
Genesis covers a period of about two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years.
It is divided into two principal parts. The first part (1-11) gives a general history of mankind down to the time of the Dispersion. The second part presents the early history of Israel down to the death and burial of Joseph (12-50). In a real sense, though, Genesis is about God creating man, man going bad - and then God beginning to lay the seeds of redemption through Abraham.
There are five principal men the book focuses on and around these the history of the successive periods is grouped: Adam (1-3), Noah (4-9), Abraham (10-25:18), Isaac (25:19-35:29), and Jacob (36-50).
The author of the book was Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible. Moses probably compiled the books from oral histories and other sources. How could this be, you say? Especially since it went down all those generations - surely the story got twisted. Well if you think about it, Adam’s grandson, Enosh, was probably alive to tell the story of the creation to Noah, so it’s not that far fetched.
To understand what Genesis is, we first have to understand what it is not.
1. Genesis is not a science textbook - though it portrays events factually, it presents them in a way that the readers would connect with (ie, the greater and lesser lights)
2. Genesis is not a history book - it is instead an account of certain parts of history as they pertain to God, and salvation through the lineage of Abraham.
3. Genesis is not a genealogy, although there are lots of genealogies in it. Notice that only those lines that lead to the Messiah are followed extensively.
Genesis is simply the story of how God created man, how man fell, then how God began His plan of salvation by zeroing in closer and closer on a race that would bear the Savior - and how God picked that race, not for any merit at all, but because of His sovereignty. Genesis, then, is God’s Story of Salvation. We need to keep that in mind because Genesis poses a lot more questions than it answers - that’s because the book has a purpose - a message - a point. It is not all inclusive. We make a mistake when we try to make Genesis say things it is not, or when we look at what the book doesn’t say and then conclude that the Bible is not correct because of all that’s left out.